On 17th March 2005 at 23:00 Anonymous 89 wrote...
I was there but had to leave before the secret machines, but i was only there really for m83 who amazed me really.
Posted by Marcia Bastiansen.
Reviewed on 16th March 2005.
Live at Cockpit on Monday, 14th March 2005
Us Anglophones seem reluctant to embrace le rock franšais. While we'll happily pose and mosh to Scandinavian garage, dance to French electronica and (reluctantly) acknowledge that our Gallic neighbours do the rap thing better than us, digging French boys with guitars appears to be a little beyond us us still. It would be a shame then, if M83 were to be met with such indifference, because the music these Parisians create tonight is a really quite heady concoction that evokes something akin to a guitar-heavy Air, or perhaps a more synthy My Bloody Valentine. While their recorded output, namely recent long player Before The Dawn Heals Us, is essentially a one-man-and-his-computer job that is more Jean Michel Jarre than Spiritualized, tonight Anthony Gonzalez arrives on stage flanked by a full band who create lush, keyboard-drenched dreamscapes that build into shimmering, swirling walls of noise. Live they are most definitely a rock act of some description, but while the guitars are prominent, the synths still manage to cut through and lend a welcome warm fluffiness to the music, which is forever carried forward by those gorgeously pleasurable, hooky chord sequences, as twinkling quiet passages give way to driving, richly textured shoegazing that comes at us in waves. Although the show's natural flow suffers slightly from having those mildly irritating pre-programmed sections (yikes, the drummer is wearing headphones!) when surely an extra keyboard player would be preferable, the musicianship is forever tight as a nut. As the cacophony reaches its climactic finale, Gonzalez bids the won-over audience an awkward 'merci beaucoup' and M83 are gone. (Actually, not strictly true; after a trip to the ladies and a lengthy wait at the heaving bar, he's still on stage, dilligently packing away his equipment, which makes him all the more endearing, really).
To New York's Secret Machines then; so blissfully un-New York, so deliciously un-now, so refreshingly not claiming any Gang of sodding Four* influences, this youthful three piece inhabit their own strange little corner on the oh so bewildering rock map. Not poppy enough for the Flaming Lips, too heavy for Pink Floyd, too weird for Led Zeppellin, these lazy almost-comparisons will only put you off the scent, yet to clumsily lob them into the 'big psychedelic rock' bag would make them sound duller than Doves, which would be unfair, for when these boys hit their stride it makes for a thrilling ride. Now, 'pounding' is an oft overused word thrown in by music hacks lamely trying to just say something, anything about those damned drums, but in describing Josh Garza's skin beating it becomes the perfect adjective; he pounds those drums really fucking hard. Each thud of his jumbo sized kick drum sends a wave of bass frequency rippling through the room that passes right through your central organs like some kind of phantom express train. It's not that he plays any louder than your average heavy metaller, but played relentlessly in the context of this sometimes slow, plodding psychedelia it makes for a remarkable and at times unsettling juxtaposition of styles. Secret Machines manage to create a massive sound for a three piece, with their skinny boy guitarist and keyboardist/bassist carving out muscular riffs that never descend into fret wankery. But where M83's noise passages shimmer, Secret Machines' chug and roar. It makes for a more challenging and draining experience, with those bass drum hits constantly pulsing through you, but when brothers Brandon and Benjamin Curtis's voices soar over the dense noise in perfect harmony it creates a breathtaking effect. You sense that you're entering new territory watching this band, and although you've got to admit it is a bit, ahem, prog, they're still young enough to make it cool and sexy as fuck.
* Gang of Four are a good band.